One of the many shifts in the release date for X-Men: Dark Phoenix took place to appease James Cameron and his passion project Alita: Battle Angel, according to a new report.
Having already missed its November 2018 release date, the movie was shunted from February 2019 to June in order to vacate the slot Cameron wanted for his cyberpunk manga adaptation.
An extensive account of the problems with Dark Phoenix, published in The Hollywood Reporter, reveals that Fox vice chairman Emma Watts, director Simon Kinberg and producer Hutch Parker were against the move.
They were reportedly concerned that Dark Phoenix was not a ‘summer movie’, having been designed as a more low-key response to the spectacle of 2016’s Apocalypse.
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Stacey Snider, Fox film chairman, however is said to have agreed to give Cameron’s movie that release slot after the Avatar filmmaker complained his film would lose out if released against Aquaman, Bumblebee and Mary Poppins Returns over the festive period.
The release date shift came in the wake of extensive reshoots for Dark Phoenix, which took place in October 2018 - a year after principal photography concluded.
Fox is said to have not been concerned by these reshoots after conducting extensive additional filming on X-Men: First Class, which reportedly only had 50% of its third act in the can when it wrapped, but went on to be a box office hit.
Insider sources said that the issues with Dark Phoenix, which is on track to lose almost £100m, come from a creative team that learned the wrong lessons from the critically reviled Apocalypse.
Fox execs reportedly believed that excessive focus on explosions and spectacle was to blame for the failings of Bryan Singer’s movie, rather than franchise fatigue.
"There was a misguided feeling that [Apocalypse] was an anomaly, that we just got it wrong," said one insider, adding: “we were wrong”.
The report also saw insiders blame a “muddled” marketing campaign for the struggles Dark Phoenix is experiencing, with the Disney merger raising questions about whether the movie should have been promoted as the final X-Men movie.
“If the merger didn’t happen, some of these people would be worried about their jobs,” said one exec.
They added: “If the merger didn’t happen, people would be clamouring for Fox to do what Sony did with Spider-Man and ask for Marvel’s help.”
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The article concludes there is “no rush” to bring these characters into the Marvel fold, as they have the potential to extend the broader Marvel Cinematic Universe for “another 10 years”.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix earned a franchise low of $33m (£26m) domestically in its opening weekend and was panned by critics, with its Rotten Tomatoes approval score currently at 24%.